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NAJEE’S NOTES: Support for Sebastian Ridley-Thomas

By Najee Ali

Contributing Columnist

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the former Assembly member, apparently was under investigation for a pair of sexual harassment complaints when he resigned from the state Legislature last year. Ridley-Thomas resigned because of severe health problems.

Full disclosure: I have known this young man since he was a child. I have watched him grow and develop into a rising force and change for good in South Los Angeles.

Ridley-Thomas has denied any wrongdoing while he was a member of the Assembly and at USC, and I believe him. At the end of the day, no one is above reproach. But everyone deserves to be heard and treated fairly

I stand in support of Ridley-Thomas along with many South Los Angeles leaders and residents who believe he is the target of a smear and slander campaign designed to put an end to the Ridley-Thomas era of political advocacy for the underserved of South Los Angeles.

That’s why we need concrete proof of any wrongdoing by Ridley-Thomas. Mere allegations are just that and without evidence shouldn’t even be taken seriously.

But in the age of TMZ, with social media by unethical bloggers who spread lies and gossip, it’s easy for those who don’t think for themselves to run with rumors as if they are true.

Ridley-Thomas is a native son and homegrown champion of South L.A. He deserves our continued support as he still is recovering from his serious illness. There is no way that anyone who lives in our community should turn their back on him.

The best is yet to come for Ridley-Thomas. He is too young to know it yet. But adversity helps you become stronger. I have no doubt that Ridley-Thomas will overcome the rumors and continue to be a champion for our community. It’s in his DNA.


Aretha Franklin, “the Queen of Soul,” has died. She was 76. Franklin died at her home in Detroit Aug. 16,

surrounded by family and friends. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. The news of Franklin’s death sent shockwaves across the nation.

On a personal note, it’s a sad day not just for music fans, but for the activist community as well. Franklin was a staunch supporter of the civil rights movement. She donated not just her money but her time as well. She participated in several fundraisers to help the community over her career.

As a child, I was too young to attend but I remember Franklin coming to South Los Angeles for a benefit concert to help raise funds for activist Angela Davis.

Franklin was well known and a great friend to the activist community. She was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and sang at his funeral. Her legacy of hits is numerous. It’s a sad day for all who loved the “Queen of Soul,” who was a national icon.


And finally, a good friend of mine, Nikki Scott, sent me a message that she is a co-host of a fundraiser for Rob Richardson for Ohio Treasurer. The date Aug. 26 from noon to 4 p.m. I cover South L.A. and our surrounding community, so I wasn’t sure how interested our community would be in supporting an outsider we know very little about except that he’s a young African-American leader running for a state office in Ohio.

Then I remembered this true story. In 2004 while living in Chicago, I called one of my best friends, journalist Betty Pleasant, with news that I would back in L.A. to help with a fundraiser for a friend of mine, a young African-American man from Illinois that no one knows outside of Chicago. I would love if you could mention it in your column and attend the reception as my guest.

Pleasant mentioned it in her column and attended the fundraiser and had a chance to meet my friend, who went on to win his campaign with our support. A few years later my friend campaigned again for a higher office and with our support he won again. My friend’s name was Barack Obama. Now I’m not saying Rob Richardson will be president one day but let’s show this young leader some support like we did Obama.

Contact Nikki Scott for more information at or (323) 650-1030.

For news tips, email or follow me on Twitter@Najeeali.